Abstract

When mortality rates by age are calculated from recorded deaths and enumerated populations, rates at higher ages are typically in error because of misstated ages. Mortality rates for China in 1981 have been calculated from the number of deaths in 1981 in each household recorded in the 1982 census, and from the census population back-projected one year. Because age was determined from date of birth, and because persons of the Chinese culture have very precise knowledge of date of birth, the mortality rates even at high ages should be unusually accurate. This expectation is fulfilled for most of China, but severe misreporting of age is found in a province that contains a large minority of a non-Han nationality, which lacks precise knowledge of date of birth. Although the province contains only 1.3% of China’s population, male death rates above age 90 for all of China are distorted seriously by the erroneous data from this location.

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